As consumers get smarter about shopping, retailers must get smarter about selling.
It’s no secret that showrooming – browsing in-store and then buying online – has become an issue for many retailers ever since the smartphone takeover set in. Some responded by getting rid of their free Wi-Fi, blocking mobile signals and even using lasers to thwart smartphone scanning apps. They’ve got it all wrong. In 2014, fighting the use of digital technology in-store is a losing battle. Instead, retailers must use digital POS technology to their advantage.
Encouraging consumers to engage with your brand through digital technology, social media and their devices while shopping in your store will create a valuable, entertaining experience that they will prefer to online shopping. The idea behind digital POS and digital retail strategy is connection – connecting them to additional information about your brand, connecting them to other users and connecting consumers to their preferred channels.
However, let’s face it: small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are likely to be a little behind on their digital retail journey. Well, at least in comparison with corporate giants. As the need to deploy digital technology is skyrocketing, doing so is becoming less and less difficult. Digital retail is leveling the playing field across companies of all sizes.
The good news is that digital retail is only as costly as you want it to be. Many modern retail point of sale (POS) providers offer kiosks, touch screens monitors, mobile POS applications and other peripherals to get the ball rolling with your existing system. Not to mention, encouraging consumers to use their smartphones while shopping can be virtually free – smartphone users don’t even need free Wi-Fi to access the internet while in your store. Any other digital technology is opt-in.
For inspiration, brands can look to today’s top retailers. Here’s how they are incorporating digital elements in their brick-and-mortar stores.
1. Assistive retailer technology
Digital retail in the form of assistive retailer technology can benefit not only your customers, but also your business as a whole. It allows employees to streamline the checkout counter and provide customers with a higher level of customer service. The more value you are able to provide to your customers, the more business they will give you.
Department stores like Nordstrom’s and J.C. Penney use digital technology in the form of mobile checkout apps to speed up service, allowing them to move from the cash register to the aisles to complete orders on a smart phone or tablet. Luxury department store Neiman Marcus uses mobile apps showing Microsoft CRM customer data to craft a shopping experience that meets their customers’ exact needs. Home Depot allows customers to check out quickly and easily by using their mobile number and a PayPal security code associated with that number.
2. Assistive consumer technology
Most customers don’t like to ask sales representatives a million questions in order to understand the product. And most employees don’t have time to answer each and every consumer’s questions anyway. Assistive customer technology allows consumers to make a more educated purchase, as well as entertain them in the process.
To do this, retailers should engage as many of the five senses as possible. Customers should see brand-related images that are aesthetically appealing; hear sound or music that enhances their shopping experience; and access as many touch screens as possible! For example, Old Navy fashion uses a music recognition app, Shazam, to provide shoppers with deals, styling tips and videos based on the music playing in their stores.
Fashion retailer C&A displays the number of social “Likes” a product has received on its hanger. That way, shoppers aiming to “wow” the crowd will know which item will garner the most social approval. Another fashion retailer, Topshop, uses virtual mirrors that display images of what customers would look like in their items.
As mentioned, deploying a digital retail strategy can be as cost-effective or extravagant as you choose. But whatever you choose, incorporating some digital element in your brick-and-mortar store is imperative in 2014. How will you implement digital retail?